Tefillin: Encountering God on our Arms and Heads By Rabbi Joshua Kulp
Putting on tefillin is a new experience for many chanichim (campers) at Camp Ramah New England. And, for some, it can be an intimidating one. So this kayitz (summer), I’m working with my classes to get our chanichim comfortable with one of Judaism’s most “hands-on” mitzvot – a mitzvah that encourages the tefillin wearer to encounter God through their arms and their heads. And we got comfortable with this mitzvah in a hands-on way.
Chanichim learned how to tie the knots for both the head and hand. We looked inside tefillin pairs that are no longer in use to see what the inside of a tefillin box looks like. We investigated the parchments that are found inside the two boxes to learn which verses are written and how the verse in the head tefillin differs from the verse in the hand.
We reviewed the proper way to put on tefillin, and how to correctly place them on one’s arm and head. And, we learned about women and tefillin and all of the female identifying chanichim in the chug (activity) had the opportunity to try on tefillin.
It’s been a great two weeks of camp, both interesting and fun for all involved. Together, we’ve engaged in a piece of learning at Ramah that the chanichim can surely take home with them.